When is blogging ‘for the record’?

Do you fix old blog entries?

Can readers tell?

I notice that my weblog editing programs, Radio and Manila, maintain an item’s original post date and time, even if I modify it a day or two later — as I’ve done a couple of times with the items on this page. At least that’s the case with the programs’ default templates and settings.

I doubt that I have enough of a readership to notice when I update something… However, the general issue has me curious:

When and why do people go back and edit blog entries?

  • Do you update things by adding a comment or a whole new page?
  • Do you correct errors, add details or make changes when you think of a way to say something more elegantly?
  • If you do, do you note or date the change?
  • Do you add a comment or link to a fixed version?
  • Or do you have a whole “corrections” section, like some newspapers? (Examples: The Guardian, The New York Times.)
  • Do you document your own update policy anywhere?

The question isn’t very significant for a casual blog, but imagine a candidate saying “If you want to know my stand on abortion, look what I said in my blog last March…” Readers would not be able to tell whether the original document had been modified.

(Of course, they could also check the archives of the Times and Washington Post… On a major issue those “newspapers of record” would have information — and their reporters certainly would raise a red flag if a candidate was engaging in Stalinist revisionism online.)

Minor case in point… I’m typing this in a rush, but I may come back later and link it to some sample corrections pages or other resources. I’ve done that once already….

It got a bit longer, so I wrote a short summary, changed the headline and made the longer version this linked story-page. Tomorrow I could decide it was all a dumb idea and erase the whole thing. Or I might just replace it with a link) if I discover that someone else has already written a master’s thesis, Poynter essay or Online Journalism Review article on a closely-related subject.

In fact, the reference to OJR as a possible source was in my first draft, but the link wasn’t… a day later I discovered the actual Mark Glaser article. A week later, I noticed Dan Kennedy, Boston Phoenix columnist, handling a correction in an Aug. 17 story by presenting both a new Aug. 21 item and a “Note: This item was later corrected” entry, with link, on the old version. And then I stumbled on Adrian Holovaty’s blog transcript of Glaser’s interview with him for the OJR article.

(For the record, I also came back to this page August 27 to do some editing, add links and bullets.)

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